The beginning of us is dust.
We begin this Lenten season with ashes streaking our faces to remind ourselves of our heritage and our legacy. From dust we come and to dust we shall return.
This remembrance is a humility. It is a reminder that if not for the breath of God in our lungs, we would be just dust. It is a reminder that for all of our striving and all of our searching and all of our work over all of our lifetimes, we will die.
Yet this remembrance is also a symbol of grace. It is a testament to the God who would bend low to breathe deep into the lungs of a clay Adam. It is a testament to the Savior who would mix dust with his own spit to restore sight to a blind man. It is a symbol of the humble power of dust to receive a mustard seed of faith, and a thanksgiving for the living water that can turn that dust to fertile soil so the seed can grow.
It is a commitment to the redeeming power of love that makes all things new, and an “amen” to the love that calls dust “My daughter” and “My son.”
And I think that this is the beauty of fasting. Fasting is a peeling away, an unburdening, of things we think we need but that do not love us.
It is the discovery of pleasure with nothing but the the life thrumming in your veins and the breath of God large in your chest. It is a chance to say with Jesus that our true nourishment is “every word that comes from the mouth of God” and that we need no other.
Fasting is an acceptance that the end of us is dust, and that that is ok. It is a choice to give up something for a time, to prove that we need not fear death taking it forever.
For ultimately, fasting declares that the end of our end is life.
It is a statement that God will rescue and restore and make new, a declaration that just as our fasting will pass so too will our sorrow. It is the knowledge that from dust we come and to beauty we return.
This Lent, I invite you to make your fasting a declaration of these truths. Let your observance of Lent be a remembrance of your identity as dust and as beloved. Believe yourself to be who God says you are, live as God made you to live, and remember again the joy of your salvation.